3 ways in which cyberbullying can impact your mental health
We’re all aware of the concept of bullying where one experiences unwanted aggression and hostility from another person or a group of people. In the past years, it included physical attack, verbal abuse and social embarrassment. Another dimension has been added to bullying with the emergence of social media. Cyberbullying is becoming a widespread problem and it is only now that people have started acknowledging its effects on mental health.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of harassment that is conducted using digital mediums. It is quite common in today’s day and age. From teenagers in high schools to celebrities who are famous across the world, everyone is at the risk of experiencing cyberbullying. Hence, it is time we talk about how it burdens one’s mental health.
Here’s how cyberbullying can impact mental health
Cyberbullying increases the risk of mental health problems for its victims, and can impact in the following ways:
1. Causes depression, anxiety and PTSD
There exists a link between cyberbullying and depression due to the trauma inflicted on the victim. A person who has suffered cyberbullying, may start to feel anxious, and lose interest in activities they like. Sleeping patterns and eating habits may take a toll, along with the energy levels, as a result of depressive episodes, following a cyberbullying incident. There could be scenarios, where the brain of the victim may recall the horrific event, causing physiological stress response and PTSD. This happens as the brain may continuously secret stress hormones, making the victim relive the stressful event over and over again. This enhanced sensory overload can overwhelm a victim, causing a slew of negative thoughts and difficulty controlling emotions.
2. Reduces self-esteem
Individuals who experience cyberbullying may create a negative image about themselves. Confidence levels and decision-making abilities are hampered due to the trauma, as the brain’s defense mechanism kicks in and makes one doubt their abilities. Some people may find it difficult to make decisions, such as what meals to have, or clothes to wear. This indicates a diminished sense of control and is followed by a general spell of lethargy which prohibits victims from getting out of bed or bathe.
3. Manifests suicidal thoughts
There could also be cases where victims develop suicidal thoughts or think about physically harming themselves. These are rare and advanced symptoms and need immediate medical attention.
Here’s how you can deal with cyberbullying
While it is understandable that the victims might feel a sense of shame and fear, they can nevertheless use the following ways to deal with cyberbullying:
- Use legal recourse and block the perpetrator: Victims may approach the police and file complaints under information technology and criminal laws. There are provisions against publishing or transmitting obscene materials in an electronic form, and criminal intimidation by way of anonymous communication. You may also reach out to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, using a dedicated communication channel. The perpetrators of such heinous acts could also be blocked by the victims on the websites and applications where the bullying took place.
- Talk to someone: Reach out to friends and family members in times of dire situations such as these. They can help provide you with emotional support and encouragement to lead your life with dignity and strength. You could also seek counselling or therapy to improve your mental wellbeing and coping mechanisms.
So, ladies, be mindful of your mental wellbeing and do not be afraid to take all possible resources in case you experience cyberbullying.